Friday, October 31, 2014

John 6:25-70

40 Days of John

Day 10: John 6:25-70

Jesus has just fed the 5,000 and walked on water to get to the other side of the lake.  And as people get to experience Jesus, they want to know more.

And so a crowd of people have followed Jesus.  They just have so many questions.  It seems that people begin asking Jesus surface-type questions, and yet Jesus answers them in ways that uncovers what's really on their hearts, speaking to their deepest and unspoken needs.

This is a truth, I think, we need to remember in our own relationships with Jesus and in our relationships with each other.

When Jesus talks to us, He fully knows us even though we don't really fully know and understand Him, even though we may not recognize who He is in our lives.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 

These Words are a promise in our lives right now.  We have seen Jesus in our lives.  Our job is to look for Him and believe.

And, man, believing is work.  It's not easy or obvious.

But as I talk to God, and question who and where Jesus is in my life, God answers me.  And the more I talk to God, the more I begin to see Jesus for who He is, Lord and Savior of all parts of my life...always at work in me and through me.

I see Jesus in my closest friends, in strangers, even in people that frustrate me.  I see Jesus in my celebrations and in the broken and hard parts of my life.  I find Jesus in my circumstances  I still don't always understand what He's doing, but I trust that He's there.  I sense His realness that is always with me.

Just like when Jesus fed the 5,000, I think Jesus gives us these experiences with Him where He blesses us in real ways, where the situation is beyond our logical explanations.  He points us to God when we have these kinds of experiences, and we want more because it's just so good to be a part of what He's doing.

Jesus wants us to believe in Him, to know that He is from God, that He and God are one in the same, that everything He does comes from our Father in Heaven, and that He offers a way that is abundantly satisfying and filling.

Jesus tells us what we need to remember in our reading today,

"The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

Maybe You have never had a "wine to water" experience or sat with Jesus as He fed the 5,000.  Maybe you've encountered God's presence before, but right now you feel disconnected.  It's okay.  That doesn't mean God is not with you.

Like the curious people who made the effort to follow Jesus in our story for today, sometimes believing is simply talking to God about what's on our minds.  And the good news is, no matter what questions we have, no matter what comes out when we speak to Him, God knows what's really on our hearts, and God knows what we really need.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for giving us Jesus to save us from our mess-ups and short-comings.  Thank You for knowing me and the true needs of my heart.

Forgive me, Lord, and my lack of understanding You and the ways You are working in the world.  I pray You will help me to see You, everywhere I go.  I need You, Lord.  Enable me to see Your love in the people and circumstances I face. Show me what it really means when You tell me that "You are the Bread of Life."  Help me to trust Your way for my life, despite the limitations of my logical mind.

I have ______________________ on my heart today.  Please bless __________________ with Your realness in the middle of the struggles that come with every day life.

I love You, Lord, and I praise You!

In Jesus name I pray,

Peace of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

John 6:1-24

40 Days of John

Day 9: John 6:1-24

Today's reading includes the stories of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water.  

Both of these stories point to the divine nature in Jesus, and His power that is beyond our comprehension.  

Jesus is really drawing crowds at this point in His ministry.  People want to see Him for themselves and get to know Him more.  And while the crowd and attention grow, I noticed today that Jesus takes deliberate time away from the chaos and busyness of the crowd.

"Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples."

It may seem random to you, but do you know what really stood out to me about this situation?  

Jesus sat down.  

Jesus sat down with the people in His life that are closest to Him.  Jesus, I would imagine, is as busy as a man could possibly be.  After all, Jesus knows He's about to feed 5,000 people.  We also know Jesus is as selfless as man has ever been.

And yet, Jesus takes the time to have conversation with His closest friends.

Granted, Jesus doesn't get to sit long, but He does sit.

And then afterwards, together with the disciples, Jesus invites 5,000 people to sit in the grass and share a meal with Him, a meal that begins with a boy's five small loaves of bread and two small fish.  Jesus isn't stressing over logistics of such a huge task or the work ahead, or even the smallness of His resources.  Jesus trusts God, and His focus is people, the people who are right in front of Him.

What does this say to your heart today?

I am really bad about sitting down.  I am constantly thinking about my never ending to-do list.  

Jesus sat down.  

However brief, Jesus invites you and me to stop and sit down with Him too.

I need to sit down.  I need to be close to God.  I need to sit down to show those closest to me to that they matter in this busy life.  It's okay, not selfish or lazy.  It's necessary. 

 A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for Your Words and the way they awaken things in my heart.  Thank You for those closest to me, and thank You for the larger crowd and the strangers that cross my path.

Forgive me for being such a busy body.  Help me remember to sit down with You.  Help me to focus on the people right in front of me and the ways You need me to love them and to nourish them- with all that You have given me, as the person You designed me to be.

I pray for ___________________, that _______________________ may feel and know the healing, renewing, and peaceful power of Your love.

I love You, Lord, and I praise You.

In Jesus name I pray,

Peace of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

John 5

40 Days of John

Day 8: John 5

Jesus heals a man who has been paralyzed for 38 years.  Essentially this man has been waiting for "his turn," believing that this pool is just what he needs to get better, to be better.  Yet, the man cannot get to the water.  It's a sad situation.  

And then the paralyzed man has an unexpected encounter with Jesus.  Jesus tells the man to get up and walk.  It's unexplainably awesome, miraculous even.

It's also significant that Jesus heals this paralyzed man on the Sabbath, and so religious leaders of the time begin to criticize Jesus for "working" on this holy day of rest.  

Jesus, in response, begins to openly tell people that He is God's son, sent to bring life to those who will believe in Him.  He ties Himself to God's Word as spoken through Moses and John the Baptist.  

It seems Jesus is explaining Himself.  He is trying to help the religious leaders put the pieces of their faith puzzle together.  Jesus is trying to show them the even bigger picture of who He really is.

Even if we have never been physically paralyzed, I don't think it's difficult to relate to times in our own lives when we have experienced some period of emotional and/or spiritual paralysis.  

And whether we have a strong belief in Jesus or not, we're human.  If we are honest, we can admit to periods of missing Jesus' point and purpose in our lives.  We have a tendency to get caught up in the less significant details of life.  We don't always connect the dots in our faith, to recognize Jesus' relationship to God's living Word and the way we live everyday... similar to the religious leaders of Jesus' day.

Jesus reminds you and me what we need to remember through our questions,

"My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working."

Jesus breaks the rules.  He is always at work.  And Jesus' work is often beyond our logical reasoning.  Yet we can believe in Him.  We can rely on Him.  We can hold Him to His Word.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for revealing Yourself to us as we go through our lives day to day.  

Forgive me for getting stuck at times in my logical and limited thinking.  

Lord, I pray You will help me to see people and situations through the lens of faith, through Your love, and Your amazing grace.

I pray especially today for ______________________ who is physically, emotionally and/or spiritually paralyzed.  I pray for you to bless ________________________ and make a difference in his/her life.

I praise You, Lord, and I love You.  Your works are so good.

In the name of Jesus I pray,

Peace of Christ,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

John 4:43-54

40 Days of John

Day 7- John 4:43-54

A royal official comes from Capernaum, some distance from Jesus, and begs Jesus to come with him to heal his sick son.  It happens to be the same place Jesus has already turned water into wine.  Instead of going with the official, Jesus just heals the boy on the spot (no travel needed).  And because of this, the official and his whole family believe in Jesus.

This story reminds us that Jesus is a transformer of hearts and a miracle worker.  Miracles really happen.  I have witnessed some myself.

And yet, I see this familiar struggle in today's reading to believe in Jesus and His power because we can't always see Him and know His power.

Jesus puts the struggle this way,

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

Jesus knows us, just like He knows the royal official in today's story.  Jesus knows when we need Him to show us what He can do beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I think just talking to Jesus about this need and our fears unleashes Jesus' power.    

And did you notice what I noticed?  Two things...

First, Jesus doesn't have to physically go to the official's son to heal him.  Just like the official and his son, Jesus meets us wherever we are, as it relates to our physical location and our own faith.  Second, the royal official's faith has a ripple effect on the faith of those around him, especially his family.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for coming to us in real ways, showing us Your power, freeing us from our sins, and healing our minds, bodies, and hearts. 

Forgive me, Lord, for all the ways I struggle to believe in You.  Help me keep my faith strong.  Help me trust and rely on You.

I especially pray for ____________________ today who longs to hear You and to see You at work in his/her life.  Come to ___________________ today in the ways I know only You can and strengthen his/her faith.  Bless ______________________ with certainty of Your presence today and always.  

I praise You, Lord, and I love You with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my strength.  You are my Rock and my Redeemer.

In Jesus' name I pray,

In Christ's love,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Monday, October 27, 2014

John 4:1-42

40 Days of John

Day 6: John 4:1-42

Jesus as this point in His ministry is making quite the name, not for Himself, but for God, His Father (also our Father) everywhere He goes.  The important religious officials seem to be getting more and more uneasy about the attention He is drawing.  And so, our story today begins by telling us, Jesus stays on the move.  He goes from Judea to Galilee.

And a side note that comes to mind is this...God's love today is like that too.  It's on the move in you and me.

But back to the story...It's quite the walk, and so, Jesus goes off the beaten path and makes a purposeful pit stop at Jacob's well in Samaria, where He has a very personal conversation with a Samaritan woman.

As the story goes, this is sketchy scene that unfolds during Jesus' time.  You know, it wasn't exactly the cultural norm, conventional wisdom, or proper for Jesus, a respected Jewish man (our Messiah) to be where He was...meeting a Samaritan woman in the middle of the day at the well.

And because of this, I love every bit of this story.  I think it says so much about our awesome God.  Can you see it?

God comes to us, too, often in the places we'd least expect, in the margins of this world, in the tension, and in the places that are often overlooked.

And as this woman spends time with Jesus, she comes to understand how awesome this is.  Even though, at first the woman only sees what's right in front of her, not really understanding fully what Jesus means, Jesus keeps talking to the Samaritan woman, until she realizes who He is.

"Everyone who drinks this water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life... 

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth... 

I, the one speaking to you--I am he."

Jesus doesn't care who society says we are.  He knows who we really are, created by God and loved by Him.  I need help remembering that, and I know I need to help others remember that.

As a result of this encounter with Jesus, John tells us the Samaritan woman leaves her water jar behind.  She brings others to meet Jesus.  What do you think that tells us, as we come to know who Jesus is, as we learn about Him, and make the effort to talk to Him? 

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for Jesus who helps us to see and know that You love us, that You created us in Your image, and that you meet us wherever we are.

Forgive me for all the ways I forget that I am so loved and that I need to see and talk to others through the lens of Your awesome love.  Help me remember that all of us are thirsty for Your love, Lord.

I pray especially today for ________________________, who just needs to know that You care, and that You really are alive and at work, working all things for good.

I love You, Lord, and I praise You.

In Jesus Jesus name I pray,

Peace of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Friday, October 24, 2014

John 3

40 Days of John

Day 5: John 3

We meet Nicodemus, a Jewish religious big shot, who wants to know and understand Jesus more.  We hear Jesus himself talk about being "born again" by the Holy Spirit, freeing us from sin.  And then John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is from Heaven, much greater than he is.

Today's reading contains the very heart of God's love for us.  It also focuses the entire Gospel message in a few very powerful, life-giving sentences.

Just reading these precious words allows God to work in us, whether you're reading them for the first time or the 100th.  These are Words we need to hear on again and again, over and over...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

John 2:13-24

40 Days of John

Day 4: John 2:13-24

We see Jesus, our Savior who is all about God's mercy, forgiveness, and grace, get mad.

Jesus is in Jerusalem for Passover, and he gets mad because the temple has become a marketplace for taking advantage of those who come to the temple to worship God.  This is God's house for worship, and yet it's not being respected.  So, Jesus kicks all the moneymakers out.  And as he does, the Jewish people question Him and his authority to do such a thing.

Yep.  Jesus is really mad.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

John 2: 1-12

40 Days of John

Day 3: John 2:1-12

Jesus has just called His first disciples, and now He attends a wedding.  And it's at that wedding that Jesus performs his first miracle, turning water into wine.  John's Gospel is the only one of the four Gospels to tell this story.  

I think John may be pointing to Jesus and the importance of His relationships as he shares this story...  See what you think.

I am caught by surprise as I read today.   I am surprised because this is not exactly the first miracle I would expect from God's son, you know?  Honestly, my first thoughts are "Really, Jesus?  

We'll talk more about the miracle in a minute.  It's important for sure.  But, for now it's the scene that stands out to me.

We've just heard the testimonies in John 1.  Jesus is God in the flesh.  King of God's people, and He's on this HUGE and very important mission to save the world.

What is Jesus thinking in this story, I wonder?

And what does Jesus do with His first disciples and His mom?  Jesus goes to a wedding.  It's a celebration, a social occasion, a party no less.  And Jesus deliberately puts Himself there with lots and lots of people. 


After my initial thoughts, I realized today how very important this setting is because I think it says so much about who Jesus, our Savior is. 

Jesus is a people person, but it's even more than that...

Although I would not initially think of a "wedding" as fitting into Jesus' ministry and His busy life-saving "work" schedule, its obviously at the top of His list.  It happens first in His long list of miracles and ministry.  

It seems to me, Jesus is reminding us in this story to take the time to nurture our relationships with the people in our lives.  And one important way to do that is to celebrate special occasions by being together.  

In fact, in performing the water to wine miracle in the middle of the wedding celebration, Jesus shows us that special occasions are in fact a part of His ministry.  

Even more, I think Jesus is showing us that there are no boundaries when it comes to His love and God's work in the world.

So, getting back around to the miracle.  There's a problem at the wedding.  They've run out of wine.  It's not a life threatening one, at least not on the surface.  But, Jesus is there, and reveals God's power.  No problem is too small or insignificant for God's involvement.

Notice that Jesus' presence at that celebration makes a difference... even though only a few people realize it at the time.  Jesus takes what's there and transforms it in a way we could never expect.  There's more than enough wine to go around, and it's the best wine they've tasted all night!  

"and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."
Jesus is so good at nurturing people.  His time with others and His physical presence are both important.  Being together is important.  And where we are, God is there too.  Even in everyday life, nothing is beyond His concern.  The best things in life are with Him!

A prayer for today-
Dear God,
Thank You for Jesus who came into the world to save each and every one of us from our sins and bless us with abundant life.  Thank You for being a God who forever loves His people.  Thank You for being a God full of awesome surprises and miracles.
Forgive me for all the ways I get too caught up in my own busy schedule.  Help me, Lord, to take the time to nurture the relationships and the people in my life each and every day.  I want You to be a part of all my relationships, Lord. 

I pray You will help me invest in spiritual relationships. 
________________ is weighing on my mind today.  You are the ultimate problem solver.  I pray for Your discernment and direction, and I trust Your way above my own.
You are my Lord and Savior.
In Jesus' name I pray,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

John 1:29-51

40 Days of John

Day 2: John 1:29-50

John continues defining who Jesus is and how he relates to the world in today's reading.  Jesus is both fully God and fully human.  

John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin) who makes "the way for the Lord." testifies to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, God's Chosen One, our Teacher...all in One.  His testimony is a powerful first-hand account of Jesus' relationship to God.  We also hear more about WHY Jesus came to walk among us...

"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

And then, we meet some of Jesus' first disciples- Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip and Nathaniel.  

Jesus knows who these people are even before they really know Him.  And I think it's the same with us.  Jesus, being fully God, our author and creator, fully knows us, regardless of where we are in our own faith journeys, regardless of the degree of our knowledge and belief, regardless of how much time we have spent with Him...Jesus knows us by name (inside and out).

We see this especially as Nathaniel meets Jesus for the first time,

"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."
Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel."

Notice, Jesus responds directly to Nathanael as he questions Him.  Yet, Jesus doesn't answer his question exactly.

I feel that way sometimes.  I know Jesus answers my prayers, my deepest questions, and He often does it in ways that I wouldn't expect...making me think, leaving me wanting to know and learn more.  Have you ever noticed that?

It seems, also, that once these guys (these first disciples) have encountered Jesus, and they realize who He changes their lives...  It takes them in directions they would never be able to imagine on their own.

I am reminded that Jesus knows you and me by name too.  He says in oh so many ways, "Follow me" (John 1:43).

And when we say "YES," not just with our words but with our direction in everyday life, He fills us with the same promise we find in today's reading...

"You believe because I told you I saw you...You will see greater things than that..."

We have no idea what's in store when we say "YES" to our Savior, but we can be sure it's Good News and life-changing, life giving even.  

Jesus is here now-- for you and for me.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for giving us Jesus to take away the sin of the world.  Thank You for knowing me and loving me so much.  Thank You for calling me by name and showing me Your greatness.

I pray for a mind that remembers You, eyes to see You, and a heart that follows You.  Transform my life, Lord, by Your presence.

What does it mean for me to believe?  Where do you need me to go?  Who do you need me to take with me?  Help me hear Your voice and Your direction.

I pray also for You to be with _________________ today.  He/she/they need You, and so I ask this prayer in Your name, knowing that the one who calls and sends also redeems and sustains us.

In Jesus' name I pray,

In Christ's love,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Monday, October 20, 2014

John 1:1-28

40 Days of John

The book of John stands out from the other 3 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).  And that's the main reason I thought it would be a wonderful "place" to start a new Everyday Reading Project.  As I am learning, any time something "sticks out" in my heart and mind, that's often God's sense of direction...

Instead of providing an overview of Jesus' ministry by going through His life, death, and resurrection focusing on Jesus' parables and miracles, the book of John focuses more on defining who, exactly, Jesus is and why He came into the world.  John seems to zero in on Jesus and His relationships.

And in being true to this blog as we read, I have to wonder:
  • What does Jesus mean to me, in my life, on an everyday basis?  
  • How do His relationships shape my relationships?  
  • What does Jesus mean to you, in your life, on an everyday basis?  
  • And how do His relationships infiltrate your relationships?
So here we are.  Day 1.  Forty days in the book of John.

John 1:1-28    

In today's reading, John connects Jesus to God from the beginning and puts Jesus "with God" as our author and creator.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made...In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind."John 1:1-4
God and Jesus are one.  Jesus is as close to God as One can possibly get, and now, in Christ, we have that same invitation.  

John goes on to assure us that Jesus is who He says He is.  Jesus is who God says He is...
"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

John wants us to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is our Messiah, our Savior.  Jesus is the very one whom the prophets and John the Baptist spoke about before He was here.  We can believe and be transformed by His grace and truth that is here with us.  He's alive and at work in the world.

Let's soak in this Good News.

And something tells me, this good book we are reading by John, the disciple "whom Jesus loved" is going to help us know more about what that means...

The scripture from John 1:10-13 has a familiarity to it that I recognize today.

Even though Jesus is here with us through the Holy Spirit EVERY single day of our lives in EVERYTHING we do , we, like people during Jesus' time, still struggle to believe and hold on to this reality.  

We are His.  Jesus reminds us.  His is here.  Do we recognize Him?  Will we live as we are, as God's children, brothers and sisters in Christ?

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for Jesus.  Thank You for sending Jesus into the world to dwell among us so that we might be closer to You, so that we might know You more intimately.

Forgive me for all the ways I fail to recognize You in me and at work in my life and in the lives of others.

Lord, I pray that You fill me with Your grace and Your truth.  Help me to remember You in EVERYTHING that I do.  Guide me by Your Holy Spirit.

I pray also for _______________ to know You and be transformed by Your redeeming love.

You are our Lord and Savior.

In Jesus' holy name I pray,

Grace and peace of Christ,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

You're Invited...40 Days of John

I would love for you to jump in and join me in reading!  Feel free to invite friends and strangers... For more on this Everyday Reading Project click here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mark 15-16

Scripture connections:  Matthew 27-28, Luke  22-24, John 18-21

Today's reading, Mark 15-16, contains both the most awful and the most wonderful parts of Jesus' life story.  I get so mad at that mean Pilate guy I can't stand it.  I wish he'd use his own brain for once.  What kind of leader is he, anyway?  All the mocking and torture Jesus goes through just makes me sick.  This is God's son.  I think about my own sons, and how I love them.  The reality of what Jesus goes through for my salvation is unbelievable.  My heart can't take anymore when Jesus calls out to His Father.

34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

At the height of Jesus' suffering Jesus calls out to God, and God turns the story around.  The next thing you know, we see God's glory.  The "curtain of the temple was torn in two" and a by-stander witnessing it all came to believe (Mark 15:38-39)."  Ahhh.  That's better.  And, bless that sweet Joseph of Arimathea who took care of Jesus' body.  Now, he is what I call a leader.  That's the kind of guy I want on my council any day (Mark 15:42-46).  

Those women, the two Mary's, wow, did they get the surprise of eternity when they went to Jesus' tomb and found that He had risen, just like He said He would.  Now, that's the best news of all!  What a story!

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to die for my sins.  Thank you for the promise of eternal life we have through Him.  I pray for strength today.  Strengthen my faith and give me the courage to live out your will for me, even when it seems impossible.  Fill me with the peace that comes from walking with You.  Help me to learn from Jesus and remember that life with you is always a more beautiful and glorious story than I could ever write on my own.

In the name of Jesus Christ I pray,

Grace and peace,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Mark 13-14

Scripture connections: Matthew 24-26, Luke 21-22, John 13-14,18

Mark 13-14 gives me that uneasy feeling again.  We're getting to the part in the Easter story I don't like to read, about all the bad things that are going to happen to Jesus.  The big shots of the time are out to get Him.  They want Him dead.  They see Jesus as a threat to their authority.  The tension mounts.  They don't want to believe He is who believers say He is, the promised Messiah, the Son of God.  The disciples are clinging to Jesus' every word at this point.  Jesus is preparing them for life after He dies and rises to be with our Heavenly Father.

The Last Supper is one of the ways Jesus prepares His Followers for days ahead.  If you have ever been a church goer, chances are pretty good you have experienced communion at some point, a way of honoring and remembering The Last Supper.  If you're like me, communion has been something you have always just done.  And because I have always done it, I have come to accept it as important in my life as a Christian without really thinking it through.  I can remember participating in communion for as long as I have been old enough to go to "big church" (the main worship service).  Have you ever wondered why it's such a big deal?  Where did this sacred and holy tradition come from and who says it's important?  We have already read about it in Matthew 26:17-30, and here it is again in Mark.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mark 10-12

Jesus is teaching us so much in Mark 10-12.  I love that Jesus teaches through loving and serving others.  He is not theoretical.  He lives what He preaches.  What He says is what He does.  His words have power.  His life is our example.  He is our connection to our Living God.

Last night after the kids were in bed and the house was quiet, I was folding laundry while my husband was going through piles of mail.  He was sorting the junk from the bills.  The more he opened, the more the bills kept piling; and before he knew it, he caught himself feeling a little stressed.  We are blessed.  We have all that we need and then some, don't get me wrong.  We are thankful.  But even so, with supporting a family of five, money gets tight from time to time for one reason or another.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mark 7-9

Scripture connections: Matthew 15-18, Luke 9, John 7

Mark 7-9 zooms in on the "heart" of Christians and our struggles.  Jesus points out that evil and sin come from within.  It is a heart problem we all have to keep in check (Mark 7:21).  Jesus has given us all these miracles.  He continues to heal many who believe in Him.  He feeds four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.  It's something we have seen Him do before when He fed five thousand (Mark 6:35-44).  He teaches the disciples and warns them of things to come in following Him.  Peter, James, and John get to witness Jesus' transfiguration.  God, in all his power and glory, speaks to them and tells them Jesus is His Son.  God could not be more obvious and clear than that.  The disciples are living with the Messiah, learning from our Savior in person, and yet even they struggle in the world in which they are living to come to fully understand and believe what they have seen with their own eyes.